The Vignettes of Vic

• Explore • Dream • Discover • Inspire •

Month: March 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

The Formulation // Melbourne, Australia

I'm an interviewer of the world, of my world, of the mass - curious to the core and wanting to know more.

I’m an interviewer of the world, of my world, of the mass – curious to the core and wanting to know more.

Sometimes I don’t want to write, I just want to photo, to photograph.
I want to photo for photos sake. I want to photo for images. I want to take and make images for image sake. For art. For more than just a mere swipe or a second standstill.
Sometimes I don’t want to follow the little rules and regulations I have set for my own self in regards to what I do and how I do it. I just want to do it, I just want it done.
But it is these little rules that I have made, that I do occasionally break, that I feel help to create some kind of continuity of my content. I don’t know if anyone else sees it that way, but I know I do.
It’s not always about straight out face-value content; it is at times about what the content is, how it is presented, why it is presented, and all the hidden meanings and messages that can be found when one decides to delve deeper.
I’m an interviewer of the world, of my world, of the mass – curious to the core and wanting to know more. Because of this it is at times hard to pin point what to write or where to even start.
I wasn’t going to write anything for this. For once I was just going to post a post – a title, a location, a hashtag recognition / reference point, and a simple sentence. Instead, the words and the writing still managed to flow from the fingers into form.
It’s not always about the writing, nor is it always about the image…

Are you on Instagram? // Melbourne, Australia

Open yourself to opportunities, and you open yourself to the world. Say I do to ideas, and make incredible happen.

Open yourself to opportunities, and you open yourself to the world. Say I do to ideas, and make incredible happen.

If you are reading this then I am guessing you are (as this post was originally written on the Instagram platform), but if you are not you should be.
Instagram is more than just a social media platform full of fun, friends, fabulous and filtered photography, it is a community of creatives who come together and share their passions with the world.
Instagram can be whatever you want it to be, and for whatever you want – from sugar daddies to Irish paddies and the world, it sure is a sweet spot to share many a moments with the masses.
Through Instagram I have met, and continue to meet, such a wonderful bunch of crazy ass people who I more than happily call my friends.
If it wasn’t for Instagram we never would have met, and having been a few years now that seems like one seriously crazy thought.
We have shared so much laughter, love and loony conversations I can no longer count them.
I never would have found myself sitting at a table tonight sharing the strangest of times with a large lashing of laughter. From crashing a wedding shoot to running mad around the city, institute crawling to coffee shots at 10pm, then déjà vuing from the weekend’s project as it was time to head home, much later than planned.
This night wouldn’t have made sense to anyone else but the special people whom I got to share it with, and I think that’s what I love about it.
The most random, open and fun situations are out there ready and waiting to happen if you let them.
** Open yourself to opportunities, and you open yourself to the world. Say I do to ideas, and make incredible happen.
I look forward to many more non-sensical experiences in the future. Thanks for all the smiles guys!! 🙂

The Documenting Day // Melbourne, Australia

It makes you appreciate what you have, and what you can achieve both as an individual, and as a collective whole.

It makes you appreciate what you have, and what you can achieve both as an individual, and as a collective whole.

Yesterday, March 19, was a day set aside for documenting humanity all around the world.
With 2,702 photographers registered across 658 cities and 107 countries, my hourly contributions from Melbourne built up to form a collection of captures from midnight to midnight down under.
There was a group of us – old friends, new friends, familiar faces and new – who all met up and wandered together; sometimes as one, sometimes as a few, other times as a few more, occasionally alone.
We wandered the streets of Melbourne watching the city change from night to day to night, busy to slow, wet to dry, quiet to loud, hot to cold, happy to sad, awake to asleep.
Throughout the day you realise how humanity is not only about individuals, about groups, group dynamics, society as a whole and the environment amongst which it is found. Not only about the present, but also the past and how it plays to form the future.
Not only about the people, but also about their place – physically and mentally – in this wonderful world. It makes you appreciate what you have, and what you can achieve both as an individual, and as a collective whole.
This was my third year participating, and although I implemented a lot of what I had learnt previously, I did not manage all. I meant to sleep prior to the midnight starting point but it did not happen… I had to battle tiredness, attitude, emotions, weather, power, purpose, sore feet, and some. Unexpectedly and overwhelmingly ending up in tears from fears around 6.30pm I almost cut the day short, but no, I was committed and I would see it through no matter what. I cannot let this shit detrimentally effect and affect my life when it does, I must work through it; and I did.
This was taken at the end, at one minute past twelve on March 20, as I sat on my midnight train circling the city before heading South-East. I was home just after 1 and asleep by 1.20, having been awake for 42 hours!!
This project is tough, but worth it.

Home // Hay, Australia

Be it by blood, or by bond; family is a feeling of closeness.

Be it by blood, or by bond; family is a feeling of closeness.

People keep asking me if I like being home. Well, what do you think my answer is?
Of course being back out in a small town on the Plains in Australia is very different to travelling around the opposite side of the world in culturally rich and diverse Europe, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the creature comforts of home too. Home being our family home, being Hay, and Australia as well.
To be close to my parents, brothers, family and friends is something I treasure, even more now then before.
Whilst away I became aware of how important a role the special people in your life play, and well, what they mean to me. This dawned on me a lot after the attacks.
I have gone away so many times now that I believe I have acquired a skill that makes it easier to be apart. I don’t forget people, but I often become so present to the situations I am surrounded by that I almost forget to miss them. It is not that I don’t miss my favourite people, places, faces and other fun times, but if I were to dwell on things that, like I have before, it makes life harder then it needs to be.
This time there were times when I did find there to be difficulties in being so far separated from my family, friends and familiarities though – in a physical sense yes, but more so in the mental sense. It was then that I really felt so very far away.
My family and friends mean the world to me. Their bubbles of love, kindness, commitment, support, encouragement, care and concern helped and helps me feel whole again, feel myself again.
Family is a special thing, and has a different meaning to different people. Be it by blood, or by bond; family is a feeling of closeness.
So, how could I say I don’t enjoy being home again? …especially when I get to share home cooked meals like this with the two I hold closest to my heart!! ** For me to post a phone picture of food from above, it must be a pretty special thing!! 😉 peace

 

The Reality of Reality // Tavira, Portugal

How do you interpret your reality?

How do you interpret your reality?

Life is a combination of thoughts, feelings, senses, experiences and interpretations of our environment which we encounter whilst our hearts our beating in this body like collection of atoms.
Reality is the way we choose to interpret these apparent truths and the way they effect and affect our environment. What we think we know to be true, or simply, which we choose to be true.
Reality, is what we allow it to be, what you choose to be real.
It is then in that moment of time, when dreams meet reality, that you know that you are doing things right, living life the way you should be, living the life you want.
You almost have to pinch yourself, to check that you are awake, that this is really happening. But even if you did, it would not matter, for it would not wake you up and stop you from dreaming.
You are awake, you are alive. You are, infact, living amidst what you have made. Your reality is a dream.
If you experience nightmares, work on changing it. Otherwise, enjoy.
** It can be a fine line between the two, and they can, and do, co-exist. ** Remember, reality is not set in stone. It is our interpretation of the surroundings in which that stone exists. How do you interpret your reality?

Stop Sit Enjoy // Paris, France

Stop and smell the sunshine

Stop and smell the sunshine

Every now and then it’s good to stop what you are doing and just sit down, stay still, and take in your surroundings.
I never did tell you about Mary, one of the many strangers I met whilst exploring Paris.
It was the most stunningly beautiful day and I found myself strolling along the Seine, merrily photographing as I went. Here I had stopped to sit in the sun, cherishing the moment.
As I walked past a lady in a wheelchair who was busy scribbling on a notepad I made a comment to her about the lovely day in my most favourite of phrases: C’est Magnifique! She agreed and asked “Anglais?” “Oui”. I had been on a mission to find the most glorious and memorable rose flavoured macaroon by Pierre Hermes, but instead I just sat in the sun by the Seine with Mary and chatted all afternoon.
We spoke about all sorts; travel, writing, life, philosophy, Paris, Australia, health, tales and more. She was so interesting and we just seemed to click. She had told me she used to work for the New York Times but was dropped after an extended stay in hospital, but that our mission was to get me published before I left Paris.
Hours went by and as the sun slipped behind Musée d’Orsay it was time to move on. I helped pushed her in her broken wheelchair along the pavement, on a bus, over a bridge, down tight streets, across busy intersections, all the way towards her area / near my macaroon store. I told her I would like to buy her one of the macaroons if the shop was still open.
I do not know if all her stories were true, but it didn’t matter. Mary made my day, and that rose flavoured macaroon – the entire afternoon for that matter – made her week, her month.
Four days later, life changed.
Three days ago, I had my first article published! 🙂
Today, I was looking on Insta at photos of places I visited with strangers in Paris, delighted to see that the flowers I’d been told about were blooming.
“After all, seasons change. So do cities. People come into your life and people go…” – SATC
** From time to time just stop-breathe-enjoy the life in front of you, and smell (or taste) the roses. It can make your day, and others too. 🙂

My very flat hometown – Hay, Australia

This article was first published on Travelicious under the title “Australia: The Hay Plains”

The flies are buzzing, the sweat is dripping, air is fresh, skies are huge, it’s hot and the only sound to break the silence is the whistle of the wind. Welcome to the Hay Plains! 

The What (and the Where)?

The Hay Plains? “Where the hell is Hay?*,” and what the hell are the Plains?

The Hay Plains is one of the flattest places on earth – second after the Sahara according to the locals (however Google tells me Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is actually the flattest). It is the vast area surrounding my hometown of Hay in New South Wales, Australia. Located halfway between Sydney and Adelaide, and about five hours (or less, depending how you drive) from Melbourne it is smack-bang in the middle of nowhere, yet also the centre of everywhere.

Due to the flat, bare, mostly treeless nature of the landscape the Plains are sometimes referred to as the most “boring bit of the road trip”. If the sun is peaking and it is a clear, scorching hot summer’s day I’d probably agree, but generally speaking I believe anyone who says this must not have spent enough time appreciating what’s there, and what’s not – the nothingness that it is known for.

The Cobb Highway heading South towards the 16 Mile Gums

The Cobb Highway heading South towards the 16 Mile Gums

Here’s a tip: Instead of looking out and down, put your eyes to the sky and look up and out. With undisturbed 360 degree views it is big sky country. The best time for you to see what the Plains have to offer is at sunrise, sunset, during storms or even at night – the stars, oh the stars. The skies out here can be truly breathtaking, so you better start dropping that jaw now in preparation.

* “Where the hell is Hay?” is an unofficial town slogan often seen on bumper stickers.

A stunning red moon rises into the starry night sky

A stunning red moon rises into the starry night sky

Who?

Hay is a pretty small town of around 2,500 people.

If you’re new to town, passing through or just visiting for a few days, we can tell. But, don’t worry, you’ll more than likely be greeted with country hospitality; a simple smile and questions regarding where you are from, how and why you ended up here. How can we tell if you aren’t from around this part of the world? Well if you were we would know your face, name, family history, vehicle, what year you finished school, what you were up to last night and more. Basically like any small place, everybody knows everybody.

It is a close knit town full of history and country charm, along with a very strong sense of community spirit. You’ll discover a lot of what are now considered “old time values.” People are kind, courteous, generous, helpful and chatty. They’ll hold the door for you, pack your groceries and even walk them to your car. Pop into a pub on any given night and you’ll be sure to find someone willing to have a chat about the area as well.

Friendly faces can always be found

Friendly faces can always be found

What?

So what’s out there? Surprisingly for a lot of people Hay has quite a wide variety of things to see and do for its size, and location. The main street is beautifully tree-lined, filled with many small-businesses and has a range of heritage buildings.

For someone visiting the town the following are considered to be the main attractions:

  • Five very different museums about the interesting history of Hay and it’s place in the world:
    • Bishop’s Lodge – A beautiful, old architecturally design house and gardens built in 1888.
    • Dunera Museum – Exhibitions about the 6,000 POWs and civilian internees kept in camps during World War II, held in old train carriages at the now disused Hay Railway Station Building.
    • Gaol Museum – Buildings and exhibitions displaying the history of Hay. The buildings themselves have had multiple uses over the years including as a gaol, maternity hospital, lock hospital for the insane, an institute for girls and more.
    • Shear Outback and the Australian Shearer’s Hall of Fame – A large and informative museum about the shearing industry and how shearing has shaped the area.
    • War Memorial Museum – Located at the Hay War Memorial High School and built to remember those from the district who served in WWI, it is a thorough museum with war materials, honour rolls and exhibitions.
  • Free Olympic size swimming pool which is open in the summertime.
  • The Sunset Viewing Area is 16kms north of town and is a great, wide open space to sit back, relax and watch the end of the day slip away as darkness descends on the Plains.
  • The Murrumbidgee River offers walking trails, cycling tracks, camping, fishing, birdwatching, boating, water skiing, kayaking etc. Sandy Point is considered the main beach in town and has many facilities including BBQs, boat ramps, seating, a swimming area and toilets.
  • Enjoy the quiet life of camping with caravan parks and camp spots scattered throughout the river bends.

There are also a range of businesses out in this rural setting including many fuel stations, two supermarkets, four banks, a newsagency, newspaper, radio, bakery, cafes, pubs, restaurants, clubs, a clothing store, florist, electrical goods, agricultural products, and more.

In saying that, there are no fast food chains, no really large franchises, no malls or shopping centres, and not even a Bunnings – and those guys are everywhere!

The Murrumbidgee River, looking a little low, runs through the middle of Hay

The Murrumbidgee River, looking a little low, runs through the middle of Hay

Why?

Because why not? Waiting for three or more cars is considered a traffic jam, and there are no traffic lights for over 100kms. Oh the serenity!

Yes it is a long way but why not try somewhere new, try something new. Come out and enjoy the countryside, disconnect from the rest of the world, wind down, relax and rewind in a quieter lifestyle.

Tack on a visit whilst passing through, make a weekend of it, or more if needed. Come and enjoy the countryside, get a glimpse of country life and work out why Hay should not be called such a boring bit of the road trip. If you want a local guide to give you some history I’m sure you will be able to find one.

There is also a wide variety of native wildlife around including kangaroos, emus, eagles, hawks, foxes, rabbits, occasionally echidnas, snakes and spiders – but no crocodiles. Keep an eye out and see what you can see.

Remember those skies and sunsets I was telling you about? Here is one of them

Remember those skies and sunsets I was telling you about? Here is one of them

When?

Hay’s location and semi-arid conditions mean that summer time here is hot, very hot. It is a dry heat and temperatures can and do go above the late 30s/40s fairly often. In winter this gets reversed with cold nights and cool days, often feeling cold enough to snow it has never been known to, but jack frosts and fog can be common.

Spring or autumn are beautiful times to visit when the weather is a bit easier to handle. When the plains are lush and green they are a bit more appealing than the hot, dried off yellow grass in summer.  The warmth of summer does mean you can make the most of the local cooling off options though – be it at the river, the pool or indoor in one of the four pubs.

Wide open roads and wide open arms welcome you to the Hay Plains

Wide open roads and wide open arms welcome you to the Hay Plains

How?

DRIVE: Having a car is the easiest way to get to and around Hay. Also as the distances are great between towns and the smaller localities between don’t always have fuel – make sure to travel on a full tank. There are almost zero trees, so unless you are near the river, a (dry) creek bed or a farm house make sure you have some form of shade in case your car breaks down.

BUS: There is a bus service that passes through town on its way from Adelaide to Sydney. The timings aren’t the most practical but that is due to the main clientele at either end. You can check out timetables on the NSW Trainlink website.

FLY: Well, yes there is an airport but only small aircraft use it and no commercial passenger flights arrive. If flying is your choice though, it means arriving at Griffith or Wagga, which are both 1.5hrs and 2.5hrs away respectively.

TRAIN: Unfortunately even though we have a stunning, old railway station the tracks have been cut and it is no longer in use. The bus service runs through town because of some old law requiring transport to locations with such railway stations.

HITCH: I take no responsibility for your safety in regards to hitch-hiking, but this could be an option as there are always people going up and down the roads so maybe this could be an option for you. On some days and certain highways you will have more vehicles then others, including large trucks, so be careful. I have seen a few hitchhikers on the roads before but haven’t had to do it myself.

WALK/BIKE: I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this unless you are very well prepared. I have seen people cycle through town but for charity and with a lot of knowledge about what they are doing. Prickles galore mean flat tyres are likely, plus the heat and wind can be killers when cycling even though it is easy on the flat. Walking would take a long time.

Distance is often referred to in time as opposed to kilometres, so if you want certain things you better be prepared to search elsewhere. Driving times as follows:

  • The sea – 4.5 hours
  • Filthy fast food chains – 1 hour drive min.
  • Delicious Italian food / the second biggest town – 1.5hrs
  • Nearest city – 2/2.5hrs min.
  • Victorian border – 2 hours
  • Melbourne – 4.5hrs
  • Sydney – 8 hrs
Driving through the Hay Plains

Driving through the Hay Plains

Fun Facts

  • The famous Australian poet Banjo Patterson wrote a poem called “Hay, Hell and Booligal”.
  • There is a mini cooper stuck on a pole at the entrance way to a property – see if you can find it. It marks the location for the Hay Mini Nationals held every June Long Weekend.
  • You may have heard of the Deni Ute Muster in October. It is an hour away from Hay and was once offered to the town as an event but got turned down. At least it now makes explaining Hay’s location easier – one hour north of the muster.
  • Shannon Noll filmed his film clip to the song “Drive” in Hay and on the Plains back in the early 2000s, have a squizz and see what it’s like.
  • It’s flat, very flat, and sometimes chickens still cross the road…
So why did the chicken cross the road? To see what it could find...

So why did the chicken cross the road? To see what it could find…

The White Trees // North of Český Krumlov

The White Trees of Czech Republic

The White Trees of Czech Republic

Somewhere between Prague and Český Krumlov we turned off the highway and wound our way around some back country roads, discovering these beauties.
It was our first day of the road trip and the weather was making driving conditions rather atrocious. Snow and icy patches covered the roads as we left the capital, and even though legal speed limits on the highways are 130km/h, all traffic was creeping at no more than ~40/50.
I can’t remember if it was before our scenic detour or after, I think before, that I saw a vehicle just three or four cars ahead of us slide out on the ice when swapping lanes and smash into the barrier, spinning 270°. Brake!!!
Snow went everywhere. I’ve not seen anything happen so quickly before. The poor woman who was driving was alive as we went by – we could not stop, there was nothing we could do – but the shock in her eyes was something else. All I could hope was the rest of our trip wasn’t going to be like this… it wasn’t.
Nicola and Chaz drove, I was either back passenger or navigator, which allowed for many merry hours enjoying the scenery we passed through, so no complaining. I wasn’t exactly in a state to concentrate on the roads anyway.
We called these the “white trees”. They were simply stunning. We were entering the first major spread of snow of our trip, with absolutely everything turning white. I loved these things, and think back to them fondly.
Czech doesn’t hold the best memories for me, but these trees remind me to recall the beauty and the good bits, that did and do exist there.
Our experiences of certain situations can impair our ability to see things clearly, to see them for what they really are.
Lately I have been seeing and hearing a lot about Europe and its current snow scatterings. I shouldn’t really complain, or be jealous, for this day with the wonderful white trees was just one of many special snow moments we got to experience on the continent. We touched down into snow in Brno, and saw it in every continental country we visited in the New Year, all seven of them.
Winter in Europe sure is a very beautiful time to be there.

Murrumbidgee Meandering // Hay

The Murrumbidgee River in Hay, NSW looking low after a recent blue-green algae bloom

The Murrumbidgee River in Hay, NSW looking low after a recent blue-green algae bloom

Being back at your own home, especially when it’s also your childhood home, is always nice. Surrounded by family, friends, pets and your own bed, surrounded by what you know.
The thing with returning home after travelling though is that there is so, so much familiarity, overload. I always struggle to see past this fact when I come back, so when in a good mindset I have to try and see with fresh eyes.
It is so freaking hot up here and that is not helping my situation. With every day being over 40° since stepping off the bus on Friday, I barely leave air conditioned space unless I have to. Two days ago I couldn’t even bring myself to go out to our pool, because it was too hot to get there! That same day was still 40 at 6pm.
Yesterday I took both our dogs for a walk down to the river. I set off for a pleasant walk after dinner / as the sun was slipping away in the hope it would seem cooler. Almost everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I came back extremely pissed off at everything.
It didn’t help that just before leaving I had found out it was snowing where I was in England, having already seen it had snowed in Paris a day or two earlier. If only I stayed! I was rather jealous (but thanks for the pics Viv), and I’m sure this compounded my annoyance.
I’d forgotten about prickles, ants, all non-straight sticks I feared were snakes. I was covered in mud, burnt, cut, and I have seen my fair share of spiders, more in three days than four months, which was topped off with a white tail coming out of a shoe I hadn’t worn since October, so I had opted for thongs – not the best choice.
All these things that you get used to when living here, are right now driving me nuts. I’m trying to see the positive side of things, finding it at times, but not always.
Travel limbo often reminds me of the following quote by Heraclitus: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river, and he’s not the same man.”
What once was is no longer, and what now is will not always be. Times are always changing, with certain things more obvious than others. Even when pissed off, at least I know it won’t be forever.

Straya Sunshine // The Road Home

Sunny bus ride North from Melbourne to Deniliquin

Sunny bus ride North from Melbourne to Deniliquin

Half way through the four hour bus ride part of my journey home I can’t believe I have had goosebumps for most of the way. Choosing a seat on the left side of the bus as we headed North I thought I would have been pummelled by sun from the West, but it’s yet to happen. I am in the shade but still getting the full brunt of the aircon that I am sure these ladies in the sun are grateful for. So as a result I keep slinking up to the glass on my side which is radiating the heat from the 40° day outside.
I can’t help but sit here and reflect upon all the bus journeys we did in Europe, the seemingly furthest away from here being the -18° trip from the Black Forest in Germany to Paris. Everything was crisp white in snow, trees included, and most of the locals didn’t seem all to bothered by the beautiful views passing us by. Here is pretty much the same, except everything is cast with the burnt off yellow from the summer sun.
My eyes are still getting used to seeing so much green. I had got used to the juicy green grass, but here instead of the grass it’s the trees, pastures and occasional crops where the colour is.
Less than half an hour from the NSW border now, from which point I have another hour on the bus, then a touch over an hour in the car before I reach home, and a cool 42°!
Looking at the forecast earlier, the lowest maximum for the week is set to be 37°, and the highest low 24°. Considering the warmest I felt in Europe was early 20s in Spain, I’m surprised how well I am dealing with the heat, so far anyway.
Finally the sun is hitting my side of the bus… time to get my tan on!! 🙂

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